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09 Mar 2011
Found this interesting infographic via Contently about books and the publishing industry. It's really quite sad to know that just because you published a book it doesn't mean you are going to make it as a writer, and just because somebody helped distribute your work it doesn't mean people are going to buy your book or that you're going to be #1 on the bestseller's list immediately.

Anyway, here it is:

20 Feb 2011
You might have heard the sad news about Borders filing for bankruptcy. I have never really liked chain bookstores and prefer independent booksellers, but to hear about their demise makes me worried about the industry in general. With the rising popularity of e-readers (which I kind of abhor), a lot of people are "going digital" and foregoing the value of real books. And now we have this kind of news. What's next for us book-loving people?

Nevertheless Sarah Weinman has a very interesting perspective about this whole thing:
"I can’t help but think - and I’m sure I’m stealing someone else’s analogy, so apologies in advance - that we’ll look back and realize massive superstore chain bookstores were the subprime loans and credit default swaps of the publishing industry. Was it really possible that a store with comfy couches, magazines, coffee, toys and games would ever be the right venue for the actual buying of books? That a company beholden to shareholders and the stock market could mesh with the art of recommending the right title to the right customer?

It’s no accident the superstore began in the early 90s, when Borders sold to KMart in 1992 and B&N finally went public in 1994, when we were climbing out of an economic dip and plunging into the go-go years of boom time. We could shrug off Crown Bookstore going under - first in 1998, for real in 2001 - because hey, that was family mismanagement, the culmination of bitter infighting and lax attention on the bottom line. We could ignore Borders’ bonehead move of outsourcing its online arm to Amazon because the digital world didn’t matter like we thought it did and we thought it never would. And later, we could attribute brick-and-mortar decline to so many of the usual suspect factors: the tanking economy, e-books, attention spans leaving books and moving to other kinds of media, and so forth.

But maybe what really happened was as simple as this: chain bookstores were never supposed to last as long as they did, and have reached their natural end point after twenty years. Publishing in general has enough struggle with scale, either being too small and prone to great risk and failure, or too big and beholden to larger entities who want greater and greater annual profits. Whatever possessed us to think bookstores could operate this way? Why is the art of bookselling supposed to be conflagrated with abundance, with excess and with millions of square feet?"

19 Feb 2011
Margaret Atwood gave a speech at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC) 2011. Her perspective on publishing vis-a-vis the internet and other new tools is interesting; wish I could've been there to listen to this live. Anyway, here's a video of her presentation:

'Publishing' originally meant simply to make public. That meaning, and the processes and technologies by which 'publishing' has taken place, has changed radically over the years, and is in the process of changing yet again. The pie—the author and work, and the packaging and sale of the latter—has been divided up in various ways through the years, with bigger and smaller pieces for accordingly. We are now in the midst of the largest publishing changes and challenges since Gutenberg. How will they affect the author? What tools are newly available to him/her? One author’s view, illustrated with her own drawings. (via)

Found via The Casual Optimist. You can also read Library Journal's highlights.